|Currency Building, Calcutta. deccanherald.com|
|Currency Building, Calcutta telegraphindia.com|
|Currency Building, a Calcutta.bongblogger.com|
This building, where once a private bank - Agra Bank functioned during the colonial period, came up in 1833 and in 1896, the government took over it for its currency operations. After India's independence, this building was in use till 1994. Later it was managed by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which began pulling down the structure in 1996. The demolition work was quickly stopped upon the intervention of
Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). Soon ASI chipped in and began managing it from 2005. Already three massive central domes had been pulled down without giving any second thought to the historical value of this structure.
Architects and engineers took special care to conserve the tiles on the walls of the courtyard and chalked out a suitable plan to restore the hollow walls on the first and second floors. The ASI tried what is called lime punning to restore the tiles back to old glory instead of restoring them, which would involve filling the gaps with similar tiles. It is a time-consuming and cumbersome work as getting the right tiles plus filling the gap and matching old tiles and color would be a tough one. The advantage of lime punning is ''it will prevent water from seeping into the inner side of the tiles and restrict further decay," according to conservation experts.
|Damaged Currency building, Kolkata. verdensteatret.com|
Each of the first and second floors of the west has three rooms and a 40-metre-long hall. Together, the total area is 12,055 sq ft.
The other great features of this building that housed Reserve Bank of India until 1937 are the sturdy main cast iron gates, large brick arches and Venetian windows (for air circulation in the building) with intricate designs. The roof is arched with iron joists and the floor is covered with marble and chunar sandstone. Particular attention was paid to preserve the authenticity of the old building and the renovation was taken up by comparing old photographs of the building for the details.
According to one ASI official,'' it had then become a jungle inside the outer walls. A ruin. It took us two years just to clear the debris from the demolition work”.